Ma's Bolognese Sauce.jpgOur family loves food. Every major event and significant occasion has been marked with food and accompanied with wine. From a young age I can remember my mum in the kitchen cooking. Coming home from school to freshly made snacks, dinners of lasagne, spaghetti and other delicious goodies.

Even now, 17 years after I last lived at home with Mum and Dad my favorite recipes are those that Mum made when I was little. These are the recipes I know by heart, even though they can be found in my tattered and stained recipe book, handwritten by mum, for when I first moved out of home. I love the smell of the house when I have made one of these recipes but particularly her bolognese/lasagne meat sauce. My new home starts to smell like my childhood home.

Garlic & Onion.jpg

There aren’t many things about my life that you would call traditional but when it comes to bolognese sauce I am a traditionalist. I have only ever made tiny alterations to my mum’s recipe,while my brothers have changed it completely to suit their tastes. My reasoning… why mess with perfection.

I am going to make this a two part blog entry. This one, Part 1 will focus on the delicious meat sauce that you can use for bolognese and lasagne. Later in the week I will do a lasagne entry, showing how I use this sauce for lasagne.


I shared this recipe with J. a long time ago when we were living on opposite sides of the world. He made it for lasagne and loved it, until I made it for him. His was good, mine was great, my Mum’s… well it’s perfection!

Ok, so in a large pot heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When it is hot throw in one finely chopped white onion and 3 garlic cloves, crushed. I also add in my herbs at this point, if I have them I use fresh but dried herbs work just fine too. Into the pot goes 1/2 tablespoon of oregano, basil and rosemary, as well as salt and pepper to taste.


I usually let the onion and garlic soften for up to 5 minutes before adding in 4 strips of bacon chopped roughly. Is there a better smell in the world than bacon, garlic and onion in olive oil!! Sooo drool inducing.

When the bacon starts to brown I add in 600 grams of ground beef. Now, you can use a mix of meats which I have done before. I have combined pork and beef before and also had veal as well. Traditionally I just use beef.


I stir the beef regularly making sure it is all browning. When you can’t see anymore pink I add in the crushed tomatoes. You need to just add 1 300 gram tin of crushed or diced tomatoes. Occasionally, I will add fresh tomatoes. I did this time, just putting 3 large tomatoes into boiling water (with the bottoms scored) for a few minutes. Then I just peeled and chopped and added them to the beef, seeds and all.


In a small bowl I mix together 3 tablespoons of tomato paste, 1/2 cup of chicken stock and a splash of red wine. I make sure the tomatoes and beef are completely mixed together before gently pouring the tomato paste mixture over the top. I mix all of this through carefully and bring the pot to a boil. Once it is bubbling I reduce the heat to a simmer and push 2 bay leaves below the surface of the sauce. Then I just let it sit and simmer for 3 hours, sometimes longer. Yesterday I let is simmer for nearly 5 hours. The liquid will reduce and it becomes nice and thick. If you need to add more liquid put in some more tomato paste and chicken stock or even a splash more wine.


Some alterations I make to this… well the wine is something I usually add in if Ihave a good red wine in the house. If it is just J. and I eating I will sometimes add some chillies to the garlic and onion mix. Other than that I stick with Mum’s recipe.

This is such a yummy bolognese sauce. It has a deep, rich flavor that works really well in lasagne but just as well with some linguine noodles. I actually froze a bunch of this for J. and I when we return from our Australian vacation, Tomato sauce.jpgso it is a great one to make big quantities of. I also like the left over spaghetti bolognese on a grilled sandwich the next day… yum!

I am lucky that my Mum instilled in me a love of cooking… now every major event in mine and J’s lives revolves around food… and for me anyway, wine. This is now one our recipes that we make to share with friends and family here.

Recipes that I am proud to pass on to friends, family and strangers that my mum gave to me, really are the best kind of recipe! I guess it is really a not so secret family recipe.

  1. Thank you very much for stopping by my blog and liking my post. It is very encouraging for a new comer like me. And happy to note that you share my passion for cooking. Great!

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  3. I could eat bolognese sauce strait out of the bowl. Yum!

  4. It’s not even 9am and I want a bowl of this right now! Thanks for sharing!!

  5. looks great and totally understand your love for food and old tattered and stained handwritten recipe books and childhood memories of great food smells throughout the house…wonderful 🙂

  6. This one looks yum! I have always found the bolognese sauce at ‘authentic’ Italian restaurants a bit on the sour side and wondered if that’s how its meant to be, or is it just my taste buds?

  7. caseylee18 says:

    This looks so good, I’m definitely going to try it soon! lasagna with this sauce would be to die for!

  8. Vanessa says:

    Just beautiful, this one brought tears to my eyes, thankyou!
    Not a fan of bacon however I will definitely try this one out. Do you think it will be ok without it?

  9. vyvacious says:

    Ooh yummy!!

    For me, it was my aunt who instilled my love of baking in me 🙂

  10. Must Love Foods says:

    Love your motto !!!

  11. Even though I’ve been to Italy twice I’ve never had or made bolognese! Shameful!

  12. pasttheplate says:

    stop making me drool.

  13. Yep. Bolognese is something my Ma kicked ass at too… Love it!

  14. Craving4More says:

    Love this! Your creativity is wonderful – who needs rules and recipes!

  15. Thanks for sharing this, I especially live recipes that have been handed down!

  16. Looks yummy, thank you for sharing your family secret recipe.

  17. pamkellstrom says:

    You have a beautiful website, I’m not figuring out how to answer post.


  18. ChgoJohn says:

    Some dishes, like a pot of good tomato sauce, like this one, simmering on the stove can instantly transport me back to Mom’s kitchen. Who says time travel isn’t possible? 🙂

  19. artisticmilestone says:

    Love this, easy, ingredients readily available, healthy and looks appetizing. This will surely be in my collection, thanx so much for sharing this secret 🙂

  20. visualriver says:

    Thanks! Looks delicious and I’ll sure make it.

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